Very Subtle Stakes winner Sugar Swirl takes on 7 in the First Lady Handicap.

Very Subtle Stakes winner Sugar Swirl takes on 7 in the First Lady Handicap.

Churchill Downs/Reed Palmer

Sugar Swirl May Sweeten First Lady

But grade III sprint at Gulfstream Park Jan. 13 has several top contenders.

Eight older fillies and mares will vie for their first graded stakes victory at Gulfstream Park Jan. 13, as they clash in the $100,000 First Lady Handicap (gr. III), a six-furlong sprint on the main track.

Several winners of multiple stakes will contest the First Lady, including 5-year-olds Rgirldoesn’tbluff and Sugar Swirl, and 4-year-old filly Princess Janie, who is the only contender with a grade I start on her record.

A daughter of Pine Bluff, Rgirldoesn’tbluff enters the First Lady with two consecutive scores, both in stakes competition. Bred in Virginia by Lazy Lane Stables, she won the U Can Do It Handicap by 3 ½ lengths  Sept. 15, then came back and took the Sugar n Spice Stakes as the favorite Oct. 21. Both 6 ½-furlong sprints were at Calder Race Course and in each one Rgirldoesn’tbluff led from start to finish.

Out of the Mining mare Chasing Wind, Rgirldoesn’tbluff is likely to be the early speed once more. Breaking from the rail with Jose Lezcano aboard, she runs for Richard Averill and will look to hit the winner’s circle for the eighth time in her career.

But the Kirk Ziadie trainee will have to contend with Frank Stronach’s Sugar Swirl, a Canadian homebred daughter of Touch Gold. The chestnut mare was remarkably consistent in 2007, hitting the board in eight of nine starts, all but two in stakes competition. A pair of those in-the-money finishes were in graded stakes company, as Sugar Swirl was third in the Sept. 8 Endine Handicap (gr. III) at Delaware Park and second to Wild Gams in the Oct. 6 Thorougbred Club of America Stakes (gr. III) on the Keeneland Polytrack.

Sugar Swirl, who most recently won the six-furlong Very Subtle Stakes by three lengths Nov. 4 at Churchill Downs, has been installed as the 5-2 favorite. Initially trained by Bobby Frankel, Sugar Swirl was recently moved into the barn of Brian Lynch. The 119-pound high weight, she will be ridden by Javier Castellano, breaking from post six.

Directly to Sugar Swirl’s outside could be her main competition, Princess Janie. A 3-year-old daughter of Elusive Quality, she has won three of seven starts, and hit the board in all but two tries. Included in the wins were a pair of stakes scores at Monmouth Park, the last one coming by 6 ¾ convincing lengths in the Mongo Queen Aug. 29.

Princess Janie, trained by Cam Gambolati, was a $150,000 Keeneland yearling sale purchase for Ol Memorial Stable and Ed Glasscock. After winning her first stakes May 20, she was aggressively entered in the $250,000 Acorn Stakes (gr. I) on Belmont Stakes (gr. I) day, finishing fifth in a six-horse field.

Most recently, Princess Janie was last in the Sept. 22 Gallant Bloom (gr. II) at Belmont after stumbling badly at the start. Edgar Prado will ride the dark bay filly, who broke her maiden at Gulfstream last March.

The heavily-raced 5-year-old mare Running Lass could also be a factor, as the Angel Salinas trainee has hit the board in 26 of 43 career starts and has won seven stakes events.

$100,000 First Lady Handicap (gr. III, Race 9, 5:07 p.m.), Fillies & Mares 4 & Up, Six Furlongs (Dirt)
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Rgirldoesn'tbluff (VA), 117, Jose Lezcano
2. Bereba (FL), 116, Eibar Coa
3. Running Lass (FL), 115, Eduardo Nunez
4. Miss Tizzy (FL), 116, Cornelio Velasquez
5. Marina Ballerina (FL), 118, Kent Desormeaux
6. Sugar Swirl (ON), 119, Javier Castellano
7. Princess Janie (KY), 116, Edgar Prado
8. Quality Affair (KY), 115, Eddie Castro